Sunday, January 21, 2007

What Does Cataract Eye Surgery Involve?

More than a million cataract surgeries are performed each year on an outpatient basis. During cataract eye surgery, the clouded lens is removed and replaced with a plastic one. One method is called Phacoemulsification which involves using ultrasound to break up the cataract. A small incision is made in the eye and suction is used to remove the cataract. After the cataract is successfully removed, an intraocular lens is implanted. This lens becomes a permanent part of your eye and you can’t see it or feel it.

Another method of removing the clouded lens involves Extracapsular surgery. A longer incision is made on the side of the cornea and the core of the cloudy lens is removed in one piece. The rest of the lens is removed by suction. Discuss the benefits and risks of each with your doctor.

Unlike Lasik eye surgery, most cataract eye surgery patients will still need to wear prescription glasses. Cataract eye surgery enjoys an impressive 98 percent success rate and as it is considered a necessary, rather than cosmetic surgery, insurance usually covers the cost. There are two types of lenses used in cataract surgery: Monofocal and Multifocal.


With the monofocal lens implant, you’ll experience normal vision at one distance, usually far distance and may need glasses for near vision. If you have astigmatism, which is very common, the monofocal lens is the one you’ll need.


With a multifocal intraocular lens implant, you’ll experience normal vision at all distances, which may eliminate the need for prescription glasses. One drawback to the multifocal lens is that you most likely will see circles or “halos” around lights at night which could interfere with your night vision.

Unlike Lasik eye surgery, cataract eye surgery is reversible in that the intraocular lens can be replaced. For example, if you choose to have the multifocal lens implanted and you find the halos around lights disturbing you may opt for the monofocal lens. If you’re having cataract surgery in both eyes, however you would need to have the same kind of lens implanted in each eye.

Complete healing may take several weeks but you can go about your normal routine fairly quickly. As with other eye surgeries, after having cataract eye surgery, follow your doctor’s instructions completely, and report any unusual side effects or severe pain. Your eye will naturally itch and you’ll notice dryness while the eye is healing. Be sure and use the eye drops the doctor gives you. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor to ask questions or to report any bothersome symptoms.


Cataract Eye Surgery: Is It As Scary As It Sounds?

Just the thought of a surgeon messing with your eyes can send a chill through most of us. Cataract eye surgery is no exception. But with the development of microsurgical procedures, cataract eye surgery is quick, generally without discomfort, and will dramatically restore your vision to the point where you may require prescription glasses for distance vision or reading only.

Primarily distinguished by the clouding of the lens of the eye, a cataract doesn't cause blindness but instead gradually reduces your vision. It does this as it grows from a small area of cloudiness that often goes unnoticed to a much larger area of cloudiness that covers the entire lens. Initially, you may not even be aware of a change in your vision. However, over time, cataracts tend to enlarge to the point where your vision does become affected.

The good news is that cataract eye surgery has become commonplace (there are over one million such surgeries performed each year), and results in success nearly 100% of the time.

Very basic and straightforward, cataract eye surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a plastic lens.

There are two fundamental approaches to this eye surgery. The first is called Phacoemulsification and is generally the preferred approach to cataract removal. It involves the use of sound waves to break up the cataract. Here's how it works: a small incision is made on the side of the cornea, (the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the surface of the eye). The tip of a microsurgical instrument is inserted into the eye. This instrument emits high frequency waves which break up the lens into tiny fragments. The fragments are then removed by suction, using the same instrument.

The second fundamental approach is called Extracapsular surgery. In this approach, a longer incision is made on the side of the cornea and the core of the cloudy lens is removed in a single piece. Any remaining fragments of the lens are removed by suction. Extracapsular surgery requires stitches to close the larger incision and generally takes six to eight weeks to properly heal.

In both cases, after the cornea is removed and replaced with a tiny prescription lens referred to as an intraocular lens (IOL). Using a calculated corrective prescription, the IOL clearly focuses light onto the retina, which dramatically improves vision. The new lens feels completely natural, you won't notice it at all, just as you didn't previously notice your cornea.

There are two types of intraocular lenses used for cataract surgery: Monofocal and Multifocal.


With the monofocal lens implant, the lens acts the same as your natural lens, except it cannot adjust focus. The lens is shaped to provide good vision for either farsightedness or nearsightedness, but is unable to improve both distances. Depending on whichever range you choose (most oten the monofocal lens is used to improve farsightedness), the other vision distance will require glasses or regular contact lenses.


With the newer multifocal intraocular lens implant, you’ll experience normal vision at all distances, which may eliminate the need for prescription glasses. There are some cautions, however. Around 4% of those who receive multifocal lenses exerience some night time glare and halos {spheres of illuminated haze surrounding sources of light). These side effects tend to decrease over time and may be minimized with the use of eye drops or prescription glass for night driving.

As with any surgery, there can always be complications. Complete healing for cataract eye surgery may require several weeks, though you should be able to return to your normal routine fairly quickly. You'll likely experience some dryness and itching in your eye during the healing process. Be sure to use your prescribed eye drops and closely follow your doctor's instructions.

Though cataract eye surgery may sound a little unnerving, the procedure is generally quick and painless. More important, it brings with it a 98% success rate. Don't let the process scare you. Talk with your ophthalmologist about your particular situation and the best way to improve your vision.

David Silva is the webmaster for Eye Surgery Insights, a website dedicated to informing visitors about the various forms of eye surgery available, including laser eye surgery and Lasik eye surgery.

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